FY 2020 - 3rd Qtr (2020 - 1st Qtr) Arborist Division Report Summary

2020 1st Quarter Report Confirms Continuing Trend in Larger Proportion of Trees Being Cut as DDH or Illegally Destroyed

Overall tree removal was down 9% in the first quarter of 2020 compared to 4th quarter 2019, but the percentage of trees cut as DDH or illegally destroyed remained about the same.  Although the decline in overall tree removal may be seasonal, the City has not provided any quarterly data before the 1st quarter of fiscal year 2020, so there is no tree data for the first quarter of 2019 for comparison.  Also, the Department of City Planning has not yet posted permitting data for the 1st quarter of 2020 so that we can see if there was a similar decline in construction permits. 

The decline in tree removal is likely not related to COVID-19 given that the quarantine for COVID-19 didn't begin until mid-March, and tree cutting permits for healthy trees take at least 15 days to procure.  Also, all construction, tree, and landscaping businesses were considered "essential" during the shutdown, and thus, were allowed to continue to operate.

The percentage of trees being removed as DDH or illegally continued to remain unusually high during the first quarter of 2020 compared to previous years. Overall, DDH tree removal is up by 27% for the year and illegal tree removal has increased by 22%.  

57% of the total trees removed this past quarter were removed with a DDH permit, a similar rate to what we saw the prior two quarters. And 12% of all healthy trees (5% of the total trees, including DDH) removed were illegally cut (including trees with unknown DBH). Only 38% of the total trees removed were legally permitted in a plan review.

Some good news is that the number of trees to be replanted increased this quarter to 47% of all removed trees, up from 43% the quarter before.  Last year, only 42% of the destroyed trees were scheduled to be replanted. But, because replanted trees averaged about 3.3" DBH this past quarter, compared to 17.8" DBH for destroyed trees, 91% of our lost tree canopy was not replaced. 

Instead, money paid by developers to recompense the lack of replanting went into the Tree Trust Fund which has been continuously raided by the millions to cover salaries and benefits of employees the Tree Trust Fund is not intended to cover.  Additionally, Atlanta's City Council recently voted to spend additional millions of recompense money from the Tree Trust Fund to pay for Lake Charlotte park improvement projects instead of tree replanting, thus ensuring a permanent loss in our tree canopy.

Unless a destroyed tree is replanted as part of a plan review process, it's more than likely never to be replanted.

Reporting Period: January 1, 2020 - March 31, 2020
Data Source: DCP Reporting, FY 2020 - Q3 Report*
Note: This table does not include 13 trees removed illegally with DBH unknown (i.e. cut down to the stump or grinded)

 2020 fy - 3rd quarter

*Includes trees on private property only, which are managed by the Arborist Division.  Does not include trees on public property, which are managed by the Department of Parks and Recreation.

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